Memories & Tidbits
memories of the Fruupp Years, asking "Did you know?": From
the Trivia Page of The Houston Files,
Stephen writes: "Serious non-egotistical non-sense, but true! But we just
had to tell you coz the 'Fruuppies' need to know! Did you know that Fruupp's
biggest gig was at the Empire Pool Wembley, London with Hawkwind! Did you
know that Queen played support to Fruupp! Yes, 1974 at the Corn Exchange
in Aylesbury, England, and it was no wee gig either. Did you know that
Genesis, with Phil Collins now the singer, ended their concert in Columbia Md.,
1977 with a version of 'The Irish Washerwoman' and a unified shout of 'Hi
Steve', when they heard that Houston was in the audience! Did you know that
Seymour Stein (Sire Records & Madonna's manager) contacted Houston after
he'd left Fruupp, wanting Houston to move to NY, and Stein would manage the new
Houston band! Stein was still talking to Houston about it as late as 1984.
Too late, he'd been to Seminary and was a pastor of a growing church! You really
are illuminated now by know this stuff, aren't you?"
* Friars at Vale Hall, Aylesbury. Fruupp had a very special relationship with the Friars venue in Aylesbury, England. From a July, 1976 handbill: "Many F.A. members openly admit that Fruupp are their favourite Friars Aylesbury band of all time and Fruupp are first to admit that Friars Aylesbury is one of their favourite gigs of all time." In fact, the band recorded the December 6, 1975 show at Friars Aylesbury for an intended live album release, though when Paul Charles's London flat went up in flames, so did the "Live at Friars" master tapes (Aylesbury Roxette, November 1976, p. 2). For handbills and accompanying texts of different tours performed at Friars Aylesbury, take a gander at: handbill and text for March 1974 Future Legends tour, in support of Queen, where they are touted as the next Genesis; handbill and text for the April 1976 tour performing materials mainly from Prince of Heaven's Eyes and Modern Masquerades, and introducing their new "ace musician" John Mason; and handbill and text for the July 1976 tour where "they are bringing in a special large P.A. system especially for this gig", which according to the flyer "will also be Fruupp's last English appearance of 1976". "After this", the promo continues, "they will be going into a long period of rehearsal for the next album which will be followed by tours of USA and Canada, their next British tour being in March '77"... perhaps the celestial bodies were not in the right alignment in late 1976, for this was not to be. Here are other announcements of Fruupp shows at Friars Aylesbury and nearby. Fruupp's success at Friars Aylesbury is underscored by this presumably impartial press review. Thanks to Dave Filby, of Isle of Wight, for sharing his memorabilia (and for his wife's tolerance of his "paper hoarding" of handbills from day's past). His response to this web site is exactly what the site aims to elicit: "I've gots loads of fond memories of Fruupp at Friars and at least one London gig . You've just reawakened them." Note: there's an entire web site devoted to live music at Aylebury, 1969 to 1984. For a live recording of the April 19, 1975 show at Friars, see Vincent Lyon's MySpace web page devoted to Live Fruupp. Also of note, in June 2011, Fruupp received the Friar's Hero Award, a tribute for having played at the club on seven different occasions from 1974 to 1976, twice as the opening act for Queen and five times headlining the evening. Martin Foye received the award on behalf of the band.
* The early years in Belfast. Eamonn P. Keyes writes: "I was at the first gig in the Ulster Hall in June 1971 when they supported Rory Gallagher, and the band was on second, with a band called Zenith being on first. The ticket cost me 50p..approx $1.20 in those times! In addition, I was at the taping of a special for BBC TV, just as Future Legends was being released. The taping was in the studios behind the King's Hall in Belfast, and the band was awesome...it'd be interesting to see if that videotape is still around somewhere. I remember Stephen Houston doing a storytelling section with many hippy-esque hand gestures to accompany the tale. At that time, I was around 16 years old, and the band was a big influence, along with Rory Gallagher. I took up guitar at that time. As a result, I'm a part-time engineer/producer and musician, still very heavily involved in the music scene in Belfast."
* A tribute to the virtuosity of Vince McCusker. Vincent Lyons writes: "I'm convinced that some impressive guitarists of today were influenced by McCusker's playing (even Yngwie Malmsteen, the US-based Swedish neo-classical rock guitar virtuoso), though I've never head anyone say this. One-of-a-kind: fast, passionate, perfect tone, classically influenced, unique technique. I'm sure others agree! He was wrongly compared to some great guitarists (e.g., Focus and Jan Akkerman) and in my mind second-rate types (sorry Genesis and ELP). Fruupp's music was regularly compared to Genesis and ELP; I never heard the resemblance". In an E-Bay review of "favorite guitarists", one reviewer (from Maghera?) adds another to the common list of luminaries -- "anyone hear of Vince McCusker and Fruupp?". On his web site, Stephen Houston agrees that Vince is in a league of his own, writing: "I ... telephoned Vincent McCusker at the millenium to tell him 'that he still is the greatest guitarist on the earth'".
* Concert in Liverpool, England, Everyman Theatre, November 16, 1974. Mark Artell writes: "The '74 gig was memorable in that it was in a tiny theatre with only a couple of hundred fans yet they still put on a great show. From memory I was in the front row only a few yards away."
Possible recording gems 'hidden
somewhere in a vault'. Graham
Wing writes: "Vince has possession of the master tapes of the 5th unfinished album (3
or 4 tracks) and the live double album that was scrapped when they split up."
Paul Charles also has a copy that, as of now, is "missplaced". The
working title of the 5th album was: "The Flight of the Doves". It was to
be based on a Paul Charles story set to the music of the 1812 overture. The double
live album recording is presumably different than the December 6, 1975 live Friars Aylesbury recording that went up in flames.
* Which Fruupp album was rated the highest by Gnosis, a site devoted to rating prog-rock albums, from 1956 to present? To find out, visit the site, and do a data base search under "Fruupp".
* Fruupp first impressions & the highs and the lows. Ian Castleton reflects on the good, the bad, and the ugly: "I saw Fruupp on at least 6 occasions during their short but brilliant life. I used to go to the Queens Hotel in Westcliff on the Sea every Sunday night and discovered Fruupp purely by chance. The Queens (now a car park) was host to some of the great names of the seventies -- Focus, Genesis, and another favourite of mine, PFM. I was hooked from the first time I saw them, a unique blend of good music and theatrics, especially Stephen's introductory stories. The best performance I saw them give was Mud's Christmas Party in Chelmsford which ended with us all singing Christmas Carols. Sadly this was followed by a very poor show at the Roundhouse. Stephen had gone and Vincent was trying to play the keyboard parts as well as guitar. It didn't work. It was also ruined by a young lad who was stealing drinks from tables, and who ended up knocking a pint over the mixing desk, causing it to stop working. I last saw Fruupp at the Kursaal in Southend doing Modern Masquerades, but sadly the magic had gone. Now, I'm just resigned to memories."
* Known Fruupp television appearances (how many would pay a princely sum to see
these guys on video?) Ireland's
Eye on Fruupp: BBC Documentary (30 min.), recorded November 5, 1973, broadcast on March
1974 (note: same night of show, they performed live on Capitol Radio's Sarah Ward Show;
Fruupp, Belfast, Ulster TV, Recorded, November 11, 1973, Broadcast November 20, 1973.
(Anybody out there got
access to BBC's vault?)
* The 1973 Cork Show. Vincent Lyons caught the band at concert at City Hall, Cork, Ireland, in late July, 1973, there mainly to see Mungo Jerry, the lead act. Having enjoyed Fruupp more than M.J.'s jug music, he noted: "I was excited to hear that they would again play Cork, Ireland (my home town) a year or two later. Sadly, the energy company went on strike, the concert was cancelled, and I never saw Fruupp live again!" Gerrald Hennessy, who also caught the Cork show, noted: "Mungo Jerry was good, but was disappointing after the spectacle of Fruupp". Check out Vincent's and Gerald's reviews of this show.
* On producing the Modern Masquerades album. Ian McDonald (of King Crimson fame and producer of the album) told me Fruupp had "awful, almost embarrassing studio equipment". Ian pleaded with Pye Records to provide the band better recording equipment, but to no avail. That be as it may, the sonic results weren't too shabby to my pair of ears. See this YouTube clip where Ian discusses this around 2 minutes into the interview.
* More on production of Modern Masquerades. At the May 3, 1998 Artist Talk/Chat City chat room, I (as "RobTron") posed this question to Ian McDonald and got this reply: "<robtron> Modern Masquerades is a great album...why did Fruupp break up? Do you stay in touch with these guys? <IanMcDonald> Well, first of all, thank you. Yes, I'm quite pleased with the way that album turned out. I have no idea why they split up. I haven't really spoken to them since making the album. I moved to the U.S. shortly after making that album."
* Fruupp receives thanks for "aural inspirations" in academic book. For some real obscure trivia, check out the book titled The Transit Metropolis: A Global Inquiry (Island Press, 1998). The Preface says: "For aural inpirations during long journeys and wee hours at the computer, I thank Fruupp."